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Brock students could see strike

Student union only group that appears focused on what’s best for students


 

Tension is mounting at Brock University as the union representing Brock’s teaching assistants and part-time instructors has rejected entering into binding arbitration for the labour dispute that has been ongoing since the union’s contract expired in June.

In a March 3 press release, the university accepted the student union’s recommendation to submit all outstanding negotiation items to binding arbitration, but the union bargaining team has no intention of doing the same.

CUPE 4207, which represents more than 840 TAs, part-time instructors, marker-graders, lab demonstrators and full-time English as a Second Language co-ordinators, has set a strike deadline for March 14 at 12:01 a.m.

Even though two mediation sessions are scheduled to occur in the next 10 days, things appear to have hit a standstill between the two sides, with both groups going to the media to defend themselves. It’s no wonder students are concerned for their semester at this point.

“Our goal is to achieve a fair deal that enhances the quality of education at Brock,” Dan Crow, president of CUPE 4207, said in a media release yesterday. “For close to a year now, we’ve heard nothing from management that comes close to meaningful bargaining or fruitful discussions that build Brock’s reputation. Instead, the administration continues to focus on cuts and concessions — that is why we are facing a lockout or strike deadline.”

Meanwhile, in the same breath they used to accept the student union’s recommendation of binding arbitration, the university disputed every point of contention between the two sides, effectively digging in their heels.

“The union has talked about a lack of progress in collective bargaining. The union has sought more than 100 changes to the collective agreement, including proposals that would significantly raise the cost of salary and benefits,” the March 3 statement reads.

The labour union has claimed the university is allowing too many students to enroll in seminar classes, that TAs are being told to assign marks based on an essay’s first and last page only, that TAs aren’t being paid properly, and that management has come to the bargaining table unprepared on numerous occasions.

With such accusations flying around, I’m not surprised students are worried about a strike possibly disrupting their semester. And with the realities of the 2008-09 work stoppage at York University still fresh in their minds, students are likely preparing for the worst. The strike at York lasted a record 88 days and was only halted when the province ordered striking faculty back to work.

It seems the student union is the only group that actually has students’ interests at heart — and so they should. On top of encouraging both sides to work through their issues and declaring a strike “should not and cannot be an option,” they have set up several channels with which to disseminate information quickly and effectively to students.

As evidenced by York two years ago, a strike is not in anyone’s best interests, especially students’. Lets hope both the university and the labour union use the next 10 days effectively so students can get through the rest of their semester unscathed.

Photo: Staff at the Brock Press stage mock picket line, by Bethany Scholl, courtesy of the Brock Press.


 

Brock students could see strike

  1. Good article. Thank you for writing it Danielle Webb!

  2. Sohail, a first grader could write “no strike” on a piece of paper and hang it up. Don’t give yourself too much credit. But I’m sure this article will look great on your resume.

  3. Really? Do you honestly believe that the student union should promote a strike by taking the side of CUPE or the administration?

    You may disagree with what the student interest is but you have to agree that a strike is definitely not in the interest of students as was evident with the York strike which eventually ended in binding arbitration.

    The student union is pushing for binding arbitration before a strike happens. Providing educated solutions like that is a bit more complicated than writing “no strike” on a piece of paper.

  4. As a Brock student, I rather see Brock win than the Union. Especially after the Union is apparently making some ridiculous clams that Brock has dismissed as false with some pretty good facts:
    Ex.
    “In its public statements, the union has questioned the quality of education at Brock. For example, the union claims that many seminars have 24 or up to 26 students. The reality is that

    * there are 2,194 seminar sections being offered in the fall/winter terms of 2010-11;
    * only nine of those seminars have 24 or more students enrolled, and the majority of these are lecture/seminars that are not led by members of CUPE 4207;
    * more than 92 per cent of seminars have enrolments of 20 or less;
    * more than 98 per cent have enrolments of 21 or less; and
    * when enrolment exceeds 20, it’s often the case that an override has been granted to accommodate a student’s schedule.”

    http://www.brocku.ca/news/15415

    From news from both sides, I don’t see the Union willing to make progress at all. Dear Union, I better graduate this year.

  5. Declaring that a strike “is not an option” is a decidedly anti-union stance. CUPE 4207 has every prerogative to legally take strike action. This is a strange campaign coming from the leader of the student’s “union”. If BUSU is worried about students getting the services they need, they should be taking a stance to pressure the administration to deliver its contingency plans in the event of a strike. The administration is responsible for ensuring the delivery of necessary services to close out the semester, this is not the responsibility of the CUPE union. The BUSU campaign takes pressure off the administration, and is trying to turn it around to subdue CUPE 4207, a union which is mostly comprised of graduate students.

  6. The student union isn’t doing anything productive. They make cheezy one-minute videos and put up posters on campus, but I don’t buy the notion that they are actually an integral part of resolving this dispute. As for your first comment about the student union taking sides with either CUPE or the administration…they have taken sides. They are clearly on the side of the administration. Sohail’s tweets would indicate that quite clearly.

    I will also point out that I am not part of the union. I am a student and do not want a strike, but if the administration rips off the union like we know they are, then I want a strike. This whole “no strike” thing is too convenient. When your stance is that simplistic you don’t need to actually learn about the issue and form an opinion. You really think that the average student on campus has any idea what is going on? The answer is obviously no.

  7. Great words Christina. As I also pointed out, Sohail is most definitely taking a pro-administration stance. It’s so obvious and absolutely shameful. The union has been pushing for a deal for almost a year (they have been working without one for that time) and the administration has come forward with nothing. Sohail runs BUSU like his own personal business and all he cares about is that he just got respect from a prominent national publication. As I already said, this will look great on a resume. How many 20-year-olds can say that they got a positive write-up in Maclean’s?

  8. @I can walk and talk

    I’m not in the union either but I think the time has come to tell that tower that enough is enough. While we’re at it – let’s tell BUSU that it’s time they got out of bed with the admin and did something apart from running off a dozen photocopies. Pathetic.

    They’re feeding on the ignorance of the masses. If they really were concerned for the students and not their own resumes they’d be educating the students, they supposedly represent, to the issues and both sides stances.

    Come on people wake up! If you don’t take a stand for yourself, be certain that your elected (and only 13% [ish] of you voted for them) will stand up for your interests. They sit, with fingers crossed, that you’ll remain sedated in your ignorant state. After all, ignorance is bliss.

  9. If the administration does not intend to increase seminar sizes, let them simply put that down in writing and the bargaining will proceed.

    The foremost points on the CUPE 4207 bargaining proposal are:

    – Ensuring that seminars/labs/tutorials are not eliminated from any more courses, and that all new courses that are added will have a seminar/lab/tutorial component. Over the past two years we have seen a large number of positions eliminated through the elimination of seminars from courses, resulting from the senior administration’s cuts to departmental budgets.
    – Putting a cap on seminar/lab/tutorial sizes so that the university cannot eliminate more jobs by cramming more students into a smaller number of sections.

    CUPE 4207 is mostly comprised of graduate students, who are risking their income in the face of this strike, and who will likely not be the ones to benefit, as they will usually graduate and move on within a year or two. The graduate student’s union is fighting in the interests of the students as a whole, they want a strong seminar system and respectful working conditions that promote student success at all levels. BUSU is trying to fracture the graduate students and undergraduate students, which does not even really make sense.

    I agree that BUSU should stand up for the continuance of services to the undergraduates, but the effective way to do this is to petition the administration for a contingency plan. The burden falls upon the administration, not CUPE, who has every right to strike. I feel like liberal democracy and union politics are under attack when I read that a strike simply “is not an option”, especially when legally it is our last and best option to ensure the administration commits to the seminar system we were promised when we enrolled at this institution.

  10. I’d really like to know what the administration has been proposing. I know for a fact that at other universities, the main issues was an infringement on academic freedom, not money.

  11. As a side note – the BUSU pres is “Washington DC tonight with [omitted] and [omitted] ! Why? To have the time of our life. Leaving in an hour or so. Anyone is welcome to join”

    Shouldn’t he be here under the current circumstances? Just a thought.

    The undergrads are purposely left in the dark. Shame BUSU. Shame.

  12. BUSU has brought forward an amendment to the faculty handbook that will protect students in the case of a strike in the upcoming at the upcoming senate meeting. Here is the amendment being put forward:

    For consideration to include in Faculty Handbook Section III.
    DRAFT
    26. Policy on Protecting Students during Work Stoppages
    This policy was developed by the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) as a distillation of
    best practices from other Universities in order to provide students with options and protection
    during work stoppages that significantly impact the acquisition of knowledge.
    26.1 Information to Students
    26.1.1 Academic Information
    Given the likelihood of alterations to regularly scheduled academic activities, both affected
    student(s) as well as the respective students union representing said individual(s) shall be
    kept informed in a timely manner of any rescheduling. Should said alterations require the
    alterations of the course as outlined in the syllabus, or the course’s entry as it appears in the
    academic calendar, such alterations must be agreed upon by the affected student(s), the
    respective students union representing said individual(s), in addition to the instructor(s).
    26.1.2 Work Stoppage Information
    The University shall strive to inform all internal University Stakeholders about any work
    stoppage on-goings, where legally able, through a variety of mediums.
    26.2 Academics during Work Stoppages
    26.2.1 Participation in Academics during Work Stoppages
    Either in the case of students being unable to participate, or choosing not to participate, in
    academic activities during work stoppages, students shall not receive any academic
    penalization. This does not absolve students of the responsibility for completing said
    academic activities; however, it does suggest that reasonable allowances must be made.
    Therefore, extended deadlines, make-up tests, assignments, reasonable alternative access to
    course materials, and/or other special arrangements are appropriate.
    26.2.2 Extension of Course Withdrawal Deadline
    In recognition that the quality of the learning experience garnered by students may suffer
    during a work stoppage, and in recognition that a lengthy work stoppage may cause undue
    financial hardship upon students, both the academic and financial deadlines for withdrawal
    from courses shall be extended ten business days after the conclusion of a work stoppage.
    26.2.3 Special Considerations
    With reference to the recognitions in Section 26.2.2, the University shall provide students
    with the ability to;
    (a) Bring forth a case to the Undergraduate Student Affairs Committee or the Graduate
    Studies Committee (based on student) outlining how hardship, the disruption itself
    or a unique situation connected to the work stoppage that places or placed the
    student at a significant inconvenience. The Undergraduate Student Affairs
    Committee or the Graduate Studies Committee shall determine how to accommodate
    said students. Without limiting the committees, reimbursement and extension of
    critical services are both included in the definition of “accommodations”.
    2
    (b) Bring forth a case to the Student Appeals Board outlining how hardship, the
    disruption itself or a unique situation connected to the work stoppage caused an
    unreasonable affect in said student’s grade.
    26.3 Service
    26.3.1 Maintenance of Services
    The University shall endeavor to maintain all uninvolved services where reasonably possible,
    with a particularly focus on critical services.

    We are working in the interest of students on all fronts.

    – Daud Grewal

  13. BUSU is promoting “binding arbitration”, and they have engaged all of the student representatives on the Brock University Students’ Administrative Council to educate students about what these means. Regardless of the percentage of students that voted for the BUSAC elections, these students have credibly achieved positions on this council because they care about the best interests of undergraduate students.
    The “No strike” campaign is a clear method of capturing the attention of students in order to further educate them because they obviously do not want a strike.
    CUPE 4207 has been asking their members to use seminar time (supposed to be dedicated to teaching) to “educate” students about the strike. Students in these seminars receive one-sided information about what is going on because the discussions that both parties have is not public. one of these representatives were elected by students to serve in their best interests.
    Binding arbitration is a process that has been successful within the past two years at the University of Ottawa, the University of Western Ontario, and McMaster University and was the conclusion of the 88-day strike at York University.
    What is logical about CUPE 4207’s rejection of this proposal in spite of the offer of the administration to fund the process which was cited as too expensive and too time consuming? The admin was also in discussions to determine when it would be possible for the process to take place and determined that it could happen within 2 to 3 months.
    If binding arbitration is in the best interest of students that are hoping to graduate or further their learning through seminars and lectures (that they have paid for), why is CUPE 4207 rejecting this proposal?

  14. We are not taking the side of the University.. The university has chosen to take our side by taking our recommendation.

    If CUPE 4207 had taken our recommendation that “Binding Arbitration is in the best interest of Students because it avoids a Strike which hurts our students” and offered it to the University… we would have been supporting their offer.

    Binding Arbitration avoids a strike.

    Binding Arbitration is what a vast majority of Students on campus want. In fact a number of CUPE 4207 members have told BUSU that they want Dan Crow to accept binding arbitration and are not happy with him rejecting the offer.

    My number one priority is to look out for Undergraduate students. Yes a strike may be what some undergraduates who are part of CUPE are calling for, but the vast majority of students are not.

    Sohail,
    BUSU President

  15. @ ignorance is bliss – Do you expect Sohail to be on campus 24/7 at this time? I’m not sure how he spends his free time is relevant to the potential strike…

  16. @ Brockstar

    The only one-sided viewpoint is the one that the administration is offering and then being supported by BUSU. And your claim about seminar time being used for union propaganda is total bogus. Which person in Schmon tower is paying you to post your nonsense on here?

  17. Good stuff, Daud. Thank you for that.

    It’s just that the “No Strike!” campaign logo goes way too far and may have a reaching negative effect upon students’ understanding of union politics. The statement that a strike “is not an option” is inappropriate when a strike is both legal, and arguably in the interest of undergraduate students themselves. It is a shame that this is the attitude with which BUSU initiated its involvement so late in the proceedings.

  18. Sohail,

    The point here is that when you say “no strike” you are supporting the administration by default and denying CUPE any legitimacy to legally strike. The issue is that you are not providing both viewpoints fairly enough and creating an anti-union dissent among the student body. Your viewpoint makes it seem like that union is holding us hostage. The fact is that when there is a strike, the administration will collect their paycheques and not care that students are out of class. They keep their jobs, the union and the students both lose theirs.

  19. As a student, I can honestly say that I don’t think into the depths of the politics between CUPE and Brock. I can also honestly say that most students think this way as well. More or less all our time is based around our studies or social lives, this means that if a section of our academic institution is threatening to strike, they then become public enemy number one. If not CUPE 4207 but another department of Brock, I can guarantee that the Students’ Union would react in the same way. BUSU’s first prerogative are its union members, the students of Brock, and I would be ashamed of our student government to not vilify something that hinders my graduation. If I am going to pour in this long a time and this large a sum of money, I expect to receive the service I pay for. A university should never be a business but a service to students because they are paying for it. I support BUSU for backing the students! I’ve seen their no strike campaign in the halls, and I think their position represents me. Personally speaking, I don’t care about your politics, but I demand the service that I am paying for.

  20. As a Brock student and BUSU employee, I am disgusted at the amount of mud-slinging these negotiations have brought about. The administration are not evil, puppy-kicking demons. The union are not greedy, whiny children. Both sides have their interests and both sides are responsible for the deplorable situation that students are being put in.

    BUSU representatives have absolutely nothing to gain by ‘siding’ with either party simply to beat on the other side. A strike would be to the serious detriment of 99% of current students. That is why BUSU is against a strike.

  21. Ahmed: “If CUPE 4207 had taken our recommendation that “Binding Arbitration is in the best interest of Students because it avoids a Strike which hurts our students” and offered it to the University… we would have been supporting their offer.”

    It is not appropriate for BUSU to impede the work of other unions at Brock University by involving themselves directly in the bargaining process. The undergraduate interest is appropriately defended by BUSU through the negotiation of the contingency plans with the administration.

    You have dramatically overstepped your bounds in a way that reveals you to be anti-union and anti-democracy.

    Need I remind you that 80% of the members of CUPE voted explicitly that they would participate in a strike if necessary. CUPE held the vote before they proceeded with a stance.

    BUSU has not polled the students, and is simply assuming that the popular student stance is “no strike”.

    I tend to believe that although a lot of students are only looking out for their best interests, and a strike would be a terrible ‘inconvenience’, a lot of students are wise enough to see that unions, collective bargaining, and solidarity /are/ in their best interest.

  22. @annoynmous [sic] name

    No I certainly do not – he didn’t sign his life away when he signed up – but, I for one feel, it’s poor timing to advertise something like that when the discussion around campus is concerned with whether – presumptuous, yes – or not the term will be completed.

    Go away. Live. Have the time of your life. However, avoid broadcasting it to a populace that is concerned if their classes are affected or not is not necessary. His posting was/is in poor taste.

    I couldn’t careless how he chooses to spend his free time.

  23. Criticizing BUSU is easy – getting involved in what’s actually happening is much harder.

    As a poster already commented, only 13% of students voted – to “walk and talk,” if your opinion is so important to you (which I don’t doubt it is, the beauty of the country we live in and it’s free speech) I reccomend you become actively involved in the university to a higher degree than taking anonymous pot-shots at elected student representatives through comment pages. You seem to be well educated in the situation, and your obvious passion regarding rhe subject could have been a real asset, had you decided to put your name in the ring in the recent elections.

    Sohail and Daud – it certainly is rewarding to see the great lengths you go to in helping keep our interests – those of the students – in the minds of both the administration and CUPE. Both sides have to reject their previous stubborn notions if the students, the ones that this university was created to educate and serve, have any chance of finishing this semester without interruption.

  24. @ Walk and Talk – clearly, you and Mr. Crow share many of the same views. However, on many of the union’s accusations, I reccomend you provide some evidence of these quite slanderous statements before bringing them up in the public forum.

  25. @Brock Student

    “I’ve seen their no strike campaign in the halls, and I think their position represents me. Personally speaking, I don’t care about your politics, but I demand the service that I am paying for”

    You obviously have no idea what is going on and you refuse to accept the complexity of the dispute. Guess what, whether it’s convenient for you or not, this has to be resolved.

  26. The Student union should be taking a stance on the issues. “No Strike” Does not work in the interests of students. Instead BUSU (Brock University Student’s Union) should actually be taking a stance and suggesting how the disputes should be resolved in the Interests of the students. For Example, the Student union should stand with CUPE and demand that the University should place a CAP on seminar sizes and that courses should retain their seminars, something the administration has not yet agreed to. The Student Union is not standing up for student interests at all, other then the current students of today who want to avoid a strike. They have no long term vision and no consideration of what is in Student’s interest in the long term. This article, as such, is highly flawed.

  27. @Cristina

    “anti-union” and “anti-democracy”? Seems a little alarmist, does it not? I believe, though I speak not for any side nor the student union, that the comments illustrated are voiced as a result of frustration at this situation.

    Clearly, is CUPE is refusing to go to binding arbitration without anything that seems like a reasonable step, then they are, at least for the moment, the party that needs to come to the table first – quite obviously then becoming the aim of remarks.

    Had the university decided to reject the arbitration but CUPE had agreed, I’m sure we would have seen a different response from the student union.

    At the end of the day, the administration – be they good or negligent in general – agreed to a means that could potentially avert a strike. CUPE has done nothing of the sort, at least in regards to this matter.

    I look forward to an amicable agreement that leaves the students with a means to finish their semester – or is CUPE content with using this as a bargaining chip?

  28. “A strike would be to the serious detriment of 99% of current students. That is why BUSU is against a strike.”

    A strike sucks for everybody, even more so for the people going on strike, but 80% of mostly graduate students are willing to make the sacrifice. In our nation we have proved that sometimes a temporary pain provides the necessary check and balance to ensure workers’ rights, or in this case, students’ rights, far into the future. We cannot foster an anti-union climate in a liberal democratic nation that we are supposed to be proud of.

  29. I can tell you as a CUPE member I have NEVER been asked to use seminar time to talk about the Strike or our positions. I HAVE been asked by students about our positions and many questions about what will happen if a strike does ensue and I have answered them as impartially as possible.

  30. @Christina

    CUPE members are paid to go on strike. In fact, if a CUPE member does not picket during the strike they do not get paid.

  31. Calling you anti-union when you say “No Strike” period is not alarmist. By definition, by dismissing the institution of the strike, you are dismissing the root of the union’s legal powers.

    Calling you anti-democratic when you say a strike “is not an option” is not alarmist when 80% of CUPE graduate students voted in favor of a strike, while the undergraduates have not been polled in their stance whatsoever.

  32. @Cristina

    Clearly you are either a graduate student, a member of CUPE, or someone with related interests – and that’s okay.

    I however dispute your claim that those going on strike have the worst end of the deal. If CUPE were to strike, they lose wages. This sucks. But, if CUPE strikes, the students who pay for a service with a fairly strict deadline of completion aren’t losing just money – their graduation will be delayed if the semester is pushed back. Look at York – what compensation did the students see out of the matter? Not much. The students are caught in the middle – think Mom and Dad getting in a fight – the students in this case are the children cowering in the corner, hoping that big ol’ divorce doesn’t come around.

    Stand up for what you believe in, but bringing liberal politics into the matter, “freedom and justice for all” doesn’t help the students. Remember, you were one too.

  33. @I can Walk and Talk

    Actually, I’ve been following this for a while now, but I was giving you the bottom line, hence why I introduced my point in the way I did. And bottom line is that if CUPE was to go on a strike for a long time, say a month and a half for example, the entirety of my semester would be very much a waste. Wasting nearly a third of my semester doesn’t cut it with me and I am very sorry for that. I understand and admit the complexities which you are talking about, but you have to realize that both the administration and CUPE are looking to their own interests and I am looking into mine. After all, how would the university run without students, would CUPE still have their jobs, would the professors, would Jack Lightstone? Next time you decide to charge the students as immaterial portions of fine agreement of cohesion so I can get my education, decide who’s really in power and who’s really paying the bills.

  34. @ Brock Student

    The union only has enough to pay us for two weeks. By the way, the semester will be over two weeks after the strike is set to begin, so I can certainly conceive of the university stalling well past this point so we do not receive our April paychecks, while they can easily find others to proctor the scan tron exams. We are certainly taking risks here as well. Besides this, I am a graduate student, I am specifically at Brock for the experience of being a TA, so I am losing out on my education by striking. Perhaps I just understand that, for now, union politics are a much more important lesson to learn.

  35. @ Brock Student

    I find myself compelled to agree. Complexities or not, quite frankly I’m not torn in the matter enough for either side to sacrifice MY money, education, or time just to see a better deal for a union or for the university representatives.

    If the problem is so complex, Walk and Talk, why not spell them out for us? You clearly seem to have a strong grip on the issue, and I would be delighted for you to enlighten us all. Complexities seem to be the haze marring this debate – why not clear the air?

  36. @ David “Clearly, is CUPE is refusing to go to binding arbitration without anything that seems like a reasonable step, then they are, at least for the moment, the party that needs to come to the table first”

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME !!?!?

    CUPE has been at the bargaining table for almost a YEAR, trying to get the administration to come prepared or to negotiate in any meaningful way, and they HAVEN’T. So the administration stalls and stalls and then says, “oops, guess we have to go to binding arbitration since we can’t resolve our issues” without ever actually attempting to negotiate. This Removes any power or leverage the union has and gives all the advantage to the employer. This removes the ability of CUPE to fight for quality education. CUPE HAS BEEN AT THE TABLE. Any day, every day. It is the Admin that has refused to talk, and now they are crying foul and suggesting that binding arbitration is the only way. Its absolutely shameful.

  37. Discussing the long term vision as being more important than the semester of current students is arbitrary.

    Students are relying on their graduation to permit them to apply for jobs.

    In the current job market, timing is everything.

    Suggesting that the outcome of this strike for future students is more important than the outcome for the current students is placing value on the education of future students over today’s students.

    I don’t see how that lives up to the principles of “justice” and “freedom” and “equality”. It’s UNFAIR. Opportunities for these students are potentially at stake.

  38. @ Daud

    “If CUPE strikes, the students who pay for a service with a fairly strict deadline of completion aren’t losing just money – their graduation will be delayed if the semester is pushed back.”

    This is aside from the fact that I am a graduate student, and by the way how ridiculous does it make you look when you pit graduate students against undergraduate students? It wasn’t so long ago I was an undergraduate at Brock, and my experience has been a continuum. Your division between these groups favours the powers of the administration. That division was made before CUPE rejected your intrusive proposals.

    It is NOT THE FAULT OF CUPE 4207 IF THE STUDENT SEMESTER IS DELAYED. THE ADMINISTRATION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DELIVERING SERVICES TO THE STUDENTS. Your job is to ensure the admin has an iron-clad contingency plan so that the semester is not delayed. YOU HAVE NO JURISDICTION TO DECLARE WHO CAN AND CANNOT STRIKE ON CAMPUS.

  39. @JS

    That may be – as I have said before, the university’s hands are far from clean in the matter. However, binding arbitration was an option put forth by representatives of the students – perhaps not the GSA, but BUSU – to which the university agreed, which would have at least got this matter dealt with.

    I for the record am not ani-CUPE or pro-Brock – quite frankly, pardon my language but I don’t give a shit who’s right or who’s wrong. It comes down to a matter of remembering whats really at stake here – there’s a lot more than money and working conditions on the line, there’s the fate of a semester’s worth of learning for 18,000 students. Paycheck or not, the students don’t have a voice (even through BUSU) at these negotiations. Nor, do I believe, have they recieved the proper consideration due.

    No matter the eventual outcome of this scenario, CUPE members are on-board with their jobs because (I would at least hope, and do believe) they realize the true value of education, and the university (despite their shortcomings) should also be hoped to have this aim as well.

    Don’t forget the reason we’re all here at Brock.

  40. @Cristina

    I’m David, not Daud. As I have said in many posts above, I have no relation to any party in this matter, merely a 5th year General Arts student.

    Consider your statements before getting so heated. You clearly let your ‘passion’ cloud your judgement.

  41. “Complexities or not, quite frankly I’m not torn in the matter enough for either side to sacrifice MY money, education, or time just to see a better deal for a union or for the university representatives. ”

    “EITHER” SIDE /CANNOT/ SACRIFICE YOUR MONEY. CUPE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR TUITION, THIS IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ADMINISTRATION.

  42. Brock administration also CLAIMS that they have been at the table. As students we have no opportunity to see what actually goes on in these meetings.
    Asking us to take one side over the other because of the message that your side has asked you to take is ridiculous, but then you are frustrated with students for not understanding.
    Maybe it’s that we understand how petty things have become in the media and know that we don’t have access to the full story.

    Also, to whoever mentioned it above, I am not paid by the university administration. That’s a ridiculous claim. I’m offended that because I have ideas that differ from yours that I must be paid by someone to write them. Regardless, you are likely paid by the union in question; should that make your opinion less credible?

  43. sorry David…

  44. The fact of the matter is that CUPE has been pushing for a new deal for a year. They have been working without a deal this whole time. They could have also striked during the winter exam period but they didn’t. The administration hasn’t been as active in the negotiating process.

    I’ll remind people again that I am actually an undergrad so I have no union interests whatsoever. I do not want a strike but I recognize the union’s right to take that action, and my beef is with the fact that BUSU doesn’t seem to respect that right and are keeping the student body misinformed on the dispute. Their position is clearly anti-union. We can debate the fine details of this dispute all we want, but if there is one thing that we must agree on, it is that CUPE absolutely has the legal right to strike. And from what I know about the dispute, I think they have reasonable grounds to exercise that right.

  45. @Cristina

    I certainly hope you represent the values of your organization, because as you have identified yourself as an employee of the union, you’re waving some fairly weighty statements out in the open.

    I respectfully suggest you consider your message closely before making such statements in a public forum. Remember, Brock Students – the ones this is all about – are the reason you have employment. Without them, there would be no seminars, tests to proctor, and the like. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the fact remains.

  46. @ David

    I think you are so close to the truth and yet so far away from it.

    What is more important. This semester for 18 000 students. or the next 3 or 4 years for 18 000 students. Or, for that matter, the entire future of Brock Students ?

    That is what CUPE is striking about, in all honesty, or at least thats where I come from as a CUPE member and where most of my friends in the union seem to be coming from. You are right, it will suck for students this year if there is a strike. But it will suck a LOT more if for the rest of Brock’s future Seminars have 30 students in them, or seminars are no longer a part of instruction and students continue to pay the same amount (or even if they pay less as Brock was founded on the seminar system). Where is your voice on this, why are you thinking of the next few weeks instead of the next few YEARS !?

    MOST CUPE members will NOT be here in the Future, they are grad students who will be gone after this year or next at the longest, but they are standing up to fight for quality education and to defend what Makes Brock the university that many of us love.

  47. Here’s the thing. I am frustrated that so many people are coming out to say “No strike, because that will hurt us undergraduates who want to graduate this year”. This is exactly the mindset that the “No strike” campaign launched by BUSU has perpetuated. It is not a valid stance because the strike is the action of CUPE and CUPE is not responsible for the delivery of the services to the students who have paid their tuition. It is the administration’s responsibility alone to ensure students finish their school year, either by bargaining to prevent the strike, or by preparing a contingency plan that will keep their customers happy.

  48. @ Brockstar … for what its worth, if you want some insight into the negotiation process, or lack there of:

    http://www.4207.cupe.ca/bargaining_update.html

    This is available.

    Keep in mind, the CUPE team would meet any time the Administration is/was willing to do so.

  49. @JS

    Thank you for putting it so plainly – this is indeed a standpoint I hadn’t considered. I really respect the way you lay it out – I feel whole-heartedly that if this was more of the approach the students actually saw from both sides – most of us, including myself don’t understand how this all works, to say the least – I think the student body could be potentially more in favour of the CUPE, or at least have an objective standpoint in the matter.

    Again, my most sincere thanks – that was a very mature way of looking at things, and I will have to consider it at length.

  50. I do not speak for the union, I speak for myself as a long-time student of Brock University, both as a graduate and as an undergraduate. I suffer and the students suffer if I am unable to participate in labs, study groups, and exams. I lose the learning experience and so do the undergraduates. I lose my wages potentially, but big deal, I could get employment easily with my skills and network. What I am interested in doing is furthering my education, and the honest truth is that over the last seven years, I have developed a real loving care for Brock University, and I see the protection of the seminar system and the fostering of healthy union bargaining to be very important for the future of a school that is teetering on the edge of so many massive changes.

  51. @ David, honestly, wow. I appreciate how open you are being and how civilly you have conducted yourself through all of these conversations. I know for myself its often difficult, because I know how much this hits home for so many people. I honestly think there are areas we can all move on. I know for me, if the Admin would agree to place a CAP on seminar sizes, and agree to keep the seminar system intact and in place the way it is now, I would be willing to let the other issues go to arbitration, even though I think there are other important issues which should be negotiated, like keeping tenured Profs and not contracting out to people who have no vested interest in their students or the future of the school.

  52. @ Christina

    I respectfully disagree. I understand why CUPE believes we have taken a stance against them but please trust me when I say that we are not taking the side of the administration. We are working on all fronts to protect the student interest. Be that by protecting students in the case of a strike or by encouraging both parties to reach a reasonable compromise.

    We have been in talks with both CUPE and the administration since the summer and we come up with a communications strategy early on. This strategy came out in phases and our final phase, is recommending binding arbitration. That is because BUSU believes it is better to goto binding arbitration before a strike occurs rather than after. We must protect the student interest and the student interest in this scenario is that a strike is avoided and a fair compromise be reached between CUPE and the administration.

    Daud Grewal
    VP University Affairs

  53. “Thank you for putting it so plainly – this is indeed a standpoint I hadn’t considered. I really respect the way you lay it out – I feel whole-heartedly that if this was more of the approach the students actually saw from both sides – most of us, including myself don’t understand how this all works, to say the least – I think the student body could be potentially more in favour of the CUPE, or at least have an objective standpoint in the matter.”

    Seriously guys, forgive my frustration, but the /REASON/ the students are not getting this information is because BUSU has launched an anti-propaganda campaign called “No Strike” against CUPE. The “No Strike” misinformation campaign is what this Macleans article is lauding.

  54. “I do not want a strike but I recognize the union’s right to take that action, and my beef is with the fact that BUSU doesn’t seem to respect that right and are keeping the student body misinformed on the dispute. Their position is clearly anti-union.”

    I think the question that the VPs and Sohail asked themselves before this is, “Would the students agree with a strike?” If that was their question then all power to them, and I don’t think they are siding with one side or the other and I’ve done enough research to know they have posted plenty of information, unbiased information, from both sides. The no strike mentality isn’t generated by BUSU, it is the general feeling from the student body. BUSU can’t even get the majority of students to come out and vote in their elections, and that is something that, I think they put all their energy into. Do you really think that this mentality is something BUSU invented? BUSU is not as powerful as you are making it out to be when it comes to the masses, because when it comes to involvement, most students aren’t. While they are not powerless, BUSU is merely siding with the student mentality while keeping them as informed as possible, in the most unbiased way. I am not saying that this strike is illegal, but I will not willingly let CUPE my right to receive the education I paid for.

    ““EITHER” SIDE /CANNOT/ SACRIFICE YOUR MONEY. CUPE IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR TUITION, THIS IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ADMINISTRATION.”

    While I agree that it is not CUPE’s responsibility regarding my tuition, it is their responsibility when it comes to the strike that is going to waste my money and time. Again, I don’t care for your politics, but both CUPE and Brock best solve this dilemma without the students getting caught in the crossfire.

  55. Just reposting, I want people to have this perspective on the “negotiations” as well as Brock’s.

    @ Brockstar … for what its worth, if you want some insight into the negotiation process, or lack there of:

    http://www.4207.cupe.ca/bargaining_update.html

    This is available.

    Keep in mind, the CUPE team would meet any time the Administration is/was willing to do so.

  56. @JS

    Can I reiterate that you are asking us to decide whose graduation is more important and whose education is more important based on quantity?

    Asking students to judge between their own education and to look to the future of Brock (which will not affect them personally) is difficult.

    Asking them to place a value on their education to society versus the education of other people to society in the future is also impossible. Society can’t judge how useful one individual’s graduation will be over another’s.

    It’s not as if Brock University will cease to exist if seminar sizes increase. It would be obviously be more desireable to maintain current seminar sizes, but the university is a registered charity. Students only pay for about 50% of their tuition on average in the first place and the university has to generate funding for their different projects through donors and fundraising. Asking them for increased wages means that funding current allocated for important programs within the university will be displaced, meaning that the quality of education will decrease anyway.

    I’m all for maintaining seminar class sizes, but not at the expense of other important programs that are funded by the university. These are also essential to maintain a higher quality of education.

    I appreciate the link. I will take the time to look at CUPE’s standpoint because right now the only thing that I’ve really absorbed is that they want to preserve the founding principles of unions.

  57. (I reposted this under my real name so people do not mix me up with others who have called themselves Brock Student in this article.)

    @ Christina

    I respectfully disagree. I understand why CUPE believes we have taken a stance against them but please trust me when I say that we are not taking the side of the administration. We are working on all fronts to protect the student interest. Be that by protecting students in the case of a strike or by encouraging both parties to reach a reasonable compromise.

    We have been in talks with both CUPE and the administration since the summer and we come up with a communications strategy early on. This strategy came out in phases and our final phase, is recommending binding arbitration. That is because BUSU believes it is better to goto binding arbitration before a strike occurs rather than after. We must protect the student interest and the student interest in this scenario is that a strike is avoided and a fair compromise be reached between CUPE and the administration.

    Daud Grewal
    VP University Affairs

  58. If you don’t care for politics than don’t take a stance at all, and leave it to those who are informed.

    I didn’t vote this year because I don’t think BUSU elections represent any real choice, and BUSU does not represent my interests.

    In light of that, I sure am glad Daud and Sohail thought long and hard about how they could represent me.

  59. The “No Strike” campaign was, is, in my opinion an attempt to state the stance of BUSU – we do not what a strike, at any cost. What we want is for the students to be able to finish their semester, graduate on time and avoid a strike. The No Strike campaign is really meant to protect the interests of the students – a strike is the least desired outcome, for everyone, including CUPE. It is also a way to get the attention of students who do not necessarily know this is happening. It is not to be “anti-union” nor “pro-administration” – it is a way to get the information out there. When people see strike, they begin asking questions and get informed. Personally, I think it’s pretty brilliant. Students do not want a strike – why not use that as the campaign?

    Also, BUSU has been providing information from both sides – administration and CUPE – on the website and in other various ways. By providing the information BUSU is fulfilling its role, in my opinion. They have been also asking for information as to what will happen if a strike will occur. Course coordinators don’t even know yet to inform their students. BUSU can only push so far to get what they need. They’ve been doing that, there is no question in my mind about that.

    Also, to be clear – I am a member of BUSAC (Brock University Student’s Administrative Council). I do not want a strike and I believe that BUSU’s stance on the issue has been clear, consistent and appropriate.

  60. @ Daud

    Sohail said earlier in the conversation today that BUSU /does/ support the administration, because the administration is playing ball with your ‘binding arbitration’ proposal.

    I in absolutely no way speak for CUPE. However, I am very pro-union, and I am learning the CUPE policies through the course of this dialogue. I have met the CUPE organizers maybe once in the halls in my life and my only experience is reading the literature. I am a lab demonstrator now, so I did vote to strike. However, I have been here for seven years and as an undergraduate I picketed alongside CUPE in order to call the university to make commitments to preserve and expand the seminar system. I believe the administration needs to be make a commitment to a seminar policy as the university makes such massive expansions, especially in the enrollmetn of graduate students and moving towards a comprehensive designation.

    The issues of seminar security are still in the air, and with the power of a strike, they could be solved quickly now and in the favour of quality education, if the students can manage to stand in solidarity. This is the most timely moment for a strike. It is not like we can postpone this action. In my opinion, we fight now for seminars or we lose our power over this aspect of our education forever. That’s not alarmism, that is the truth, the growth around campus is now, the contract is up now, the students could /know now/…

    However, Daud, your BUSU campaign creates a deceptive rift between the graduate and undergraduate students, and reveals your so called ‘union’ to be against the principles of collective bargaining, a stance that is confirmed by your treatment of your own employees, who work at the food dispensaries and convenience stores. They receive absolutely zero job security and very little respect from the organization, even though they are also integral members of our community who should be respected amongst the other groups of workers around campus.

  61. Sohail said “BUSU is not siding with the university. The University has chosen to side with BUSU by accepting the proposal that BUSU put forward”

  62. There are undergraduate students who do understand the importance of a strike. The climate inside BUSU can be very insulated. Whether or not your campaign intended to be anti-union, you made a very big mistake because saying that a strike is “not an option” is a categorical attack against the way that unions operate. You could have said anything along the lines of “Let’s make sure that if there is a strike it works out in our best interests as undergraduates, and let’s make sure the school year remains in-tact”. Maybe your campaign could have read “No disruptions to our semester!” Because this, fairly, implicates the administration, who is the only party capable of and responsible for, delivering on your credits and degree. What you said is “No Strike” which subverts the CUPE’s only means of leverage.

  63. @Christina

    The university administration is not against the seminar system. Even if they were the administration has no direct power over education policy, senate does.

    Here is an excerpt from the faculty handbook:

    4.1.2 “The Senate is responsible for the educational policy of the University…
    (b) to control, regulate and determine the educational policy of the University and to be concerned with all matters that affect the welfare of the University;

    Students have seven voting seats on senate and they advocate for the student interest at this body. A union contract is not the way to protect the seminar system, the senate is body that is responsible for educational policy. The Brock Act, a provincial policy, states that Senate is responsible for education policy. I do not understand how a Union contract could trump provincial legislation when it comes to education policy.

    Daud A. Grewal
    VP University Affairs

  64. I am not talking about educational policy. I am talking about a clause in the working agreement with the graduate student employees that guarantees seminars/labs/turorials will have fair sizes and will be available in many disciplines, even as the university adds more classes, so that all of us graduate students will have the opportunity for a dynamic position that affords us experience in an area related to our field of expertise. That is quickly not the case as more and more graduate students enroll in the school. This type of agreement just so happens to work out for the undergraduates, and will be a check and balance for the administration’s educational policies.

  65. Hi Carly,

    You have brilliantly summaraized BUSU’s very clear position. When you put it in those terms, it is clear what the talking points are. But the rhetoric of avoiding a strike “at any cost” is exactly the problem. I do not feel it is appropriate to mobilize the students against a labour union’s fundamental principles – the right to collective bargaining and a strike.

    What BUSU has actually provided is a cover story. The University can now deflect the criticism it has earned (those pesky accusations that of stonewalling, and a year without a contract, etc.).

    Yet, the strike is no big deal – at worst a bump in the road that won’t hurt anyone’s transcript or living arrangements. The semester is nearly over at Brock; whereas the strike at York started in the middle of november. There’s a big difference. Frankly CUPE is not making it that hard on the students. It is BUSU who is filling students with fear and stress by claiming that a strike is the worst thing that could possibly happen. It isn’t.

    Furthermore, How can you say that NO STRIKE is not anti-union? How can you say they have presented both sides if their campaign is fundamentally opposed to the basic fundamental rights of CUPE to strike? The campaign is called NO STRIKE which immediately aligns itself against CUPE’s legal rights to exist as a labour union. BUSU is not advocating on our behalf to CUPE or the adminstration. Instead, BUSU is propagandizing to us. BUSU should be pushing for the BEST SERVICE out of Brock Admin, not filling students with unnecessary fear and leveraging them against the legal rights of a labour union.

    It boggles the mind how this is viewed as appropriate.

  66. @Christina

    But keeping seminars or removing seminars is under the jurisdiction of Senate not a union contract.

  67. I pride myself on being an informed student with strong and outspoken opinions.

    I have read the majority of posts with an open mind, and respectively trying to see the main points of both sides. I personally am against there being a strike. I am against this for two reasons. I do not want to have not only my class but work schedule (as I work on campus) to be disrupted. Both of these will cost me money I do not have and would put me in a difficult position. Secondly, Reputation. Brock has its own reputation to protect but I am more concerned with the reputation of TA’s. I know many personally and have had more amazing TA’s than I have had professors and I believe that some TA’s are ruining the other TA’s reputation and there is nothing that the amazing ones can do.

    I do not believe that CUPE should not strike, as it is their right to do so. However, in the case of York, the strike was ended with binding arbitration and if the two sides stay as strong-willed as they are, the end result will be binding arbitration. Why would we waste so much time disrupting people’s lives (for those who are graduating) to end in the same way as it could end now?

    My final thoughts are from an African proverb:
    When two Elephants fight, it is the grass who suffers

  68. Daud, in some ways you are right, in others you are wrong. Its great that student representatives MIGHT be able to block increases to seminar sizes, or be able to protect the seminar system in general via a Senate vote. BUT, if that Admin has language which allows them to increase class sizes or cancel seminars all together, they can, and probably will.

    Student representation hasn’t been effective so far, seminars have increased drastically already. When I started my undergrad Seminars were capped at 16 students per, and virtually all classes have seminars. As we have already seen Brock now quotes stats about seminars having 20 or less students, no more talk about 16 students. And we have heard from students/TAs that have seen courses that have had their seminar aspects removed completely. … How effective is that representation in Senate again ?

    Whats more effective, some votes on Senate orrrr I legally binding contract that CAPs seminar sizes and assures the continuation of the seminar system as it is now …. hrmmmm tough one ? I think not. BUSU should be speaking out NOW and pushing the parties toward the positions that benefit students the most instead of insisting … NO Stike at any cost !!! :P

    Whats your option if the School screws over the students and crams more into classes or drops the seminars for some courses or doesn’t increase seminars to correlate with increased enrollment …. student demonstrations ??? Student Strikes ??? or .. you could just stand with CUPE now on the issues that are important to students and demand that CUPE leave the rest to arbitration or even stand with the Admin on other issues …

    But insisting on a “No Strike” campaign doesn’t help anyone except in the most short sighted vision possible.

  69. There are a lot of things being said on here. What no one is saying is that students understand what “strike” means. Students are familiar with what a “strike” does. Students also understand that a strike is two sided.

    On one side you have the very accurately depicted as the union’s legal ability and fundamental purpose.

    The other is the obligation for the employer (Brock) to provide solutions that would not entice the union to use their fundamental right and last resort.

    Running a campaign with a “no strike” message does not target a group or condemn a fundamental right. No strike is a commonly used, simplified terminology that stands on the foundation of no work stoppage, strike or lockout.

    The campaign is clear, students do not want a disruption at Brock.

    The messaging, memo’s, video psa’s and information dissemination has been nothing but completely unbiased. Each message as has asked both sides to keep talking and even enter into binding arbitration to avoid a stoppage. Marketing is about creating a message that your audience can relate to and stand behind. No Strike does simply that, no more, no less, attempting to represent students wishes.

    There are no reasons to make comments personal, or vicious. There are no reasons to read into two words. The focus must be getting an new CBA done before students miss class or other areas of their University lives.

  70. The BUSU is doing the right thing… it is representing the students, NOT the union, NOT the university administration. AS such, BUSU has a responsibility to ensure that all students get the education that they paid for and that they need.And that a strike will not interfere with students’ summers so that they can work to pay for next year. Therefore, it is their responsibility to do anything possible to avoid that a strike takes place. In the York strike, the students were totally unrepresented by their student council and had to fight for their rights themselves, by setting up various protests groups.

    And after the long York strike, the strike was settled by arbitration. This is a logical way to end a strike if both sides are miles apart. By CUPE refusing arbitration, it shows it is not being reasonable, and is unwilling to take reasonable actions to end this strike.

    Some posters feel that BUSU should support the potential strikers more. That is not the role for BUSU. The role of BUSU is to support the students. The potential strikers already have the union to support their cause.

  71. When you say “No to the Brock strike” as an official campaign run by BUSU, you are functionally attacking CUPE’s right to strike. We can’t have one union coming out and telling another union they don’t have the right to function. The employment deal with the TAs needs to be reached so that Brock can grow safely and productively over the next few years. CUPE believes this cannot be accomplished through arbitration, which is precedent-based, because the TAs, who are the graduate students in a unique seminar system, are asking for a promise towards the quality of their working/learning environment, and a wage settlement is really a superficial issue (but necessary in light of the university and administration’s growth, and in a climate of inflation where living costs are rising). CUPE has already positioned itself over months to gain leverage and bring the university to the bargaining table. The strength of a strike vote is an integral part of that, which you undermine by saying a strike “should not and cannot be an option”.

    No seminars were cut this year for budgetary reasons. I definitely believe that, but we have felt the effects of cuts in years past, and as new courses are added to the calender, seminars, tutorials, labs, and other interactive learning environments are often integrated with the lecture, or else designed in such a way (ex. through the use of technology) that they minimize the amount of TA-undergraduate contact time. This is strangling the dynamic, interactive, 1-1 type learning environment that I was so deeply impressed by when I decided to come to Brock. Undergraduate enrollment in increasing, graduate enrollment is increasing even faster, so the seminar system needs to grow, not just avoid cuts.

    As a graduate student, I am concerned that the number of quality TA positions are being pinched, and as the school comes closer to a comprehensive-style model, it is important to hear in the language of the employment deal with the graduate student teaching assistants, that the ratio of employees, to undergraduates, to courses will be able to provide meaningful working and learning positions for all the TAs of the future. The only way to attract the best graduate students is to promise them meaningful positions. If we want the best learning environment overall we are going to need to invest in the front line teachers, the TAs.

    As well, the stress of increased class size (sections with 20+ students) is an imperative issue. I am a lab demonstrator and in all honesty it can be downright scary to be in a room full of 20 second year students with their bunson burners going. Labs with 16 and fewer students seem to be receptive to much more learning and discussion, as we get to know each other better. As a graduate student, I am concerned about my working conditions, which are also the learning conditions of the undergraduates. I have a lot in common with them, because like them, my ultimate purpose at Brock is to learn. A commitment made in the TA working agreement, to put a reasonable cap on section size, is needed to ensure safe and productive working conditions in the future.

  72. Cristina, you fail to recognize that BUSU is supposed to represent the interests of the students, not the intersts of unions. The TA’s that are in this dispute are already represented by the union to support their interests. And the students also need someone to represent their interests: the BUSU. Why, as you seem to imply, should BUSU blindly support CUPE, whether the union’s position is right or wrong? That is simply not correct, naive, and not the BUSU’s mandate. We have already seen what happens at York University when their student union did not support the needs of the students.

    Furthermore, Brock is in the business to provide the best education possible for its students. If there are very large class sizes, or other negative implications to the school, it would simply attract fewer students, and the university would lose its reputation, something that I am sure the university does not want to happen. Therefore, the university has be balance everything, and if it decreased class sizes, for instance, it would result in higher tuitions. Larger class sizes, to a limit would increase affordability and allow more student to afford to go to university. The negatives of larger class sizes may be far outweighed by the positives that lower tuition costs will allow more to attend universities.

    You seem to be so concerned about the quality of education provided, yet you are willing to have thousands of students suffer and potentially have serious negative impact on their year, and summer employment because of the effects of the strike, because your union refuses to accept the logical compromise when there are so many differences: binding arbitration.

    And quality of education comes at a cost. Yes, quality can be increased, and in some cases its warranted but that is also going to add considerably to the cost of tuition that students have to pay. Students are already stressed about the high tuitions that they have to pay. The extra costs that smaller class sizes may just cost too much for students to afford.

    Furthermore, if you are so upset about the situation at Brock, why did you do there in the first place?

  73. Further, Cristina, if you believe in “union solidarity” so much, why must BUSU blindly support CUPE, but not the other way around? If you truly believe in union solidarity, why do you not blindly support the BUSU, who is fighting for no strike in order to protect the interests of students and allow them to complete their year?

    And if you feel stressed out with class sizes of 20 in an university environment using bunson burners, then go to any high school, where there are class sizes up to 30, with students much less mature than university students who are using bunson burners!

  74. BUSU is not attacking the right of a union to strike. That is not, in my opinion, the proper interpretation of the campaign. What is really being said is that a strike is the least advantageous outcome for the students, who BUSU represents. By calling for no strike it shows that a strike is the least desired outcome for the students. BUSU is not saying, in any way, that the union doesn’t have the right to strike – it does. What it is saying is that a strike is not wanted, so “No Strike” is an appropriate campaign. BUSU wants everything done to avoid a strike because “No Strike” is the best outcome.

  75. @Brock Student II

    Caring about the politics of our university is not my mandate, nor should the methods of getting results be my responsibility. I mean isn’t that why we pay these ridiculous fees to set up the bureaucracy to deal with the process so we can have an education? The bottom line I present is that I demand my education which I have paid for. So, when you tell me that I have to pay the salaries of the institution and still have to care about the need to oversee that my education is still facilitated, that becomes a problem. I keep asking myself, why am I paying you again?

  76. BUSU is a joke. If they really cared about student life on campus, they would do more to protect undergraduate interests. Like, (A) supporting the TA UNION, (many TA’s are UNDERGRADUATE students). (B) Care about class sizes! Anyone who has every had to hunt for extra chairs or who has sat on the floor in in seminar knows there’s a real problem at Brock. Finally,(C) not cut the programs that increase the quality of life on campus, like FOOT-PATROL! Any woman who has every tried using foot-patrol after 7pm knows that the service is non-existent. Shame on BUSU for pretending to care about undergraduate concerns, when the only thing they care about is padding their personal resumes.

  77. I really am not saying that BUSU needs to support CUPE. I am saying that BUSU has absolutely no right to step into the middle of the bargaining process of any of the unions around campus, and say that a strike “cannot be an option”.

    Yes there are two sides to the bargaining table, but the nuance that you are failing to address is that the administration has all the power, and the only power of the union is the power to threaten strike. Your campaign admonishes striking, which attacks the union but not the administration. Yes, students do not want their schoolyear disrupted, but “keep our schoolyear in-tact!” was not what BUSU chose as a campaign message. A message like this is impartial, it implies that bargaining should proceed, and puts the same amount of pressure on each party to get that done. It also leaves room for the simple fact that no matter what the union chooses to do, in the end it is still the sole responsibility of the administration to deliver on a satisfactory semester.

    Those who argue in favor of BUSU’s “No strike!” campaign are all referencing pro-administration arguments like that above, which says that the student has full faith in the administration he/she is paying, and he/she does not see why there should be any disruptions. It’s fine to support the administration, but what is proved in practice here is that “No strike!” is a pro-administration position, and BUSU has not taken an impartial stance.

  78. To me, what’s worse than BUSU taking such a biased stance, and having it published in a national news outlet, is that they did not poll the students in any capacity to determine if “No Strike!” is a popular opinion. Sure, they all /feel/ like it is, and looked deep into their hearts to determine the slogan, but it is important to remember that less than 15% of the undergraduate student population even voted for these BUSU executives in the first place. So, BUSU executives, in the insulated climate of the BUSU and administrative offices, should not overstep their bounds representing the student population’s opinion in school-wide matters that extend beyond the reach of the BUSU election platforms, especially without asking the students first.

  79. Cristina, again, BUSU has to take the side of the student.That is what they are there for. The students are the real victims here, CUPE has the option to strike, or not, and the administration has various options available to it. And the students have NO options. They truly are the victims. BUSU has every right to step in and protect the rights of the students.

    The union refuses to accept binding arbitration.In labour disputes, binding arbitration is what reasonable parties on both sides accept when both sides are at an impasse. By the union refusing to accept binding arbitration, by an independent mediator, it clearly shows that they are not reasonable, and do not have the interests of the students or their members in mind. They are simply playing stupid power games. As what happened at York these power games resulted in nothing but frustration and damage for all parties involved.And after much wasted time, it was binding arbitration what ended up eventually resolving that strike.

    And, in talking to many students at Brock, the overwhelming majority feel that the administration is right in this case, and the overwhelming majority feel that there should be no strike. So what BUSU is doing is simply following the instructions of the students, which, in a democracy they should. You may not like that the majority of the students feel that the administration is correct, but this is a democracy, and you need to accept the views of the majority of the students.

  80. @ Brock Friend

    As well as BUSU’s being biased,
    An institutional bias that I am trying to balance with my own experiences and opinions,

    BUSU is continuing to perpetuate a fear climate regarding how a strike would play out and the effect that will be felt on the undergraduate’s school year. It is the last two weeks of the last semester of the school year. York went to strike in the middle of first semester, which is why the strike had such an effect. Even if CUPE had to- in a worst-case-scenario, dig its heels in for capped seminar sizes and a commitment to provide an adequate proportion of meaningful positions to graduate students- the strike would proceed through exams, and then into the summer. That is minimal disruption.

    The administration is responsible for making the alternative arrangements so that marks can be collected and distributed to their paying customers. They can find different faculty members to distribute the exams, and they can use scantron to mark them. There will be pressure on the administration to determine how to to mark final essays, but they can easily allot 5 min, even 1 min a piece to get the job done, since this is how undervalued CUPE members feel sometimes.

    There are other unions who are in solidarity with CUPE4207, including the professors, the librarians, and other unions, such as the administrative assistants, who also have a legal strike mandate. CUPE4207 has been working without a contract for months, and its strong strike mandate was meant to bring the administration to the bargaining table in at least one meaningful discussion that is not stonewalled or dismissed by them. Binding arbitration was a bully move, that would allow the university to completely weasel out of addressing the concerns of the graduate student workers, by handing it over to a third party.

    BUSU’s position has fundamental problems.
    * “No Strike” is a categorical attack against union action. Breaking down the words: no-anti strike-union. This campaign is biased and aligned with the administration.
    * They promote fear and rumours about the services that will be lost due to a strike, rather than aggressively bargaining with the university to ensure undergraduates will receive adequate services to complete the school year. So they are not actually promoting undergraduate interests.
    * The workers in BUSU’s convenience stores, food dispensaries, and offices are not even offered basic job security. Even a yearly contract states the position can be terminated “without cause”. There is a climate that says, basically ‘fall in line or lose your job’. This is why BUSU loses touch with the students, and only captures a small percentage of the population. That’s not to say BUSU doesn’t provide necessary student services, but I don’t think BUSU should call itself a ‘union’, especially when it lists itself as a business on Facebook, and tells me they “have a corporate model”. The budgets that are public for all to see are SHAMEFUL, and there is a yearly issue with perks and travel and expenses, as well as corruption and the misuse of funds for personal initiatives. I am worried that BUSU represents a corporate takeover of student interests. If I am given that impression whatsoever, I really do have a problem with BUSU calling itself a ‘union’.

  81. @ Brock Friend
    As well as BUSU

    Please do not tell me what the student’s opinions are DEMOCRATICALLY until you can show me poll data. You launched this campaign without that data.

  82. Sorry @Brock Friend.

    BUSU, as always, protects the interests of the administration, NOT the students. Of the aprox. 14,200 undergrads on campus, only a handful of BUSU’s friends in the faculty of business vote for them. Their only concern is personal reputation. Every student on campus knows this.

    Clearly, you’re out of touch with the conversation on campus because the BUSU campaign has angered MANY students (myself included) because of it’s biased stance. The conversation among students and professors (at least in my faculty) is in support of the MANY unions poised to strike.

    Why do I think you’re out of touch with the conversation on campus? I know you haven’t stepped foot near a seminar in recent years. 3 out of 4 of my upper-year seminars have too many bodies for the number of desks provided. In 2 seminars last semester, people had to sit on the floor to write an exam! Last year, I was lucky if I found a seat without searching the halls of MC for a spare chair. Is this acceptable to you? How would you like to spend $30,000 a year to sit on a dirty floor?

    Considering President Jack Lightstone take home salary, he should personally feel ashamed. I know I am – every time I sit in an over-crowded seminar or have to search for an extra chair.

    Clearly, you’re out of touch with the conversation on campus because the BUSU campaign has angered MANY students (myself included) because of it’s biased pro-admin stance. The conversation among students and professors (at least in my faculty) is in support of the MANY unions poised to strike.

    If a strike ameliorates the poor learning conditions I’m subject to daily, I’m 100% in support of it, however temporarily the inconvenience.

  83. The responses of most students here reflect the narcissistic nature of their generation.
    Firstly, the argument of “I paid for this” falls flat. Do you know what it costs to educate you? On average, $20K a year. You pay $5K. The taxpayers pick up the rest of the tab. You’re getting a good deal so stop whining.
    Secondly, the working conditions under which students are taught have been fought over in the past using methods that the union is now using again. It’s how things remain fair for everyone. If you don’t like that, suck it up, buttercup. Life is not all about you.
    Thirdly, think about the students that come after you and the quality of education that they will be getting–do you want THEM to suffer even larger classes and less attention while paying much, much more than you pay?

  84. If the two sides are as far apart as it seems it is just going to end up going to binding arbitration anyways, the fact they rejected that is a joke.

  85. @ Cristina

    You’re fundamental problems are flawed themselves.

    Firstly, “No Strike” does not translate to anti-union. Plain and simple. It is a stance to say that a strike is the outcome unwanted by the students – no strike really means “we do not want a strike.” It is not an attack on the right of a union to strike – everyone acknowledges this, it is law – but a strike is the outcome least desired and should be avoided if at all possible. Binding arbitration was the way to avoid that and CUPE rejected that, so congrats to them.
    BUSU’s position has fundamental problems.

    Secondly, BUSU does not promote fear and rumours. They have been taking the information from both sides and delivering it to the students. BOTH sides, not just CUPE or just the administration. As well, they have been trying to get the administration to ensure that there are means in place to provide adequate services to complete the school year. Just because the information hasn’t been explained yet, doesn’t mean that BUSU isn’t trying – it means the administration hasn’t told the students yet.

    Thirdly, I cannot comment on the specific contract issues as I have never read one. However, I fail to see how it is relevant at this time. You’re critiquing the stance BUSU has taken to stick to that. You have other concerns? Take them up in another forum – this isn’t the place for that concern. However, I will comment on the budget, specifically the travel expenditures. BUSU sends delegates to numerous conferences throughout the year to represent BUSU and Brock Students at these events. These include CASA, OUSA and other organizations that work for common student interests. Should the executive and the student volunteers who go to these (because, yes, not just the executive go but other informed members as well) have to pay for the expenses incurred on their own? Absolutely not, so the travel expenses are completely legitimate and needed.

    As for your comment that BUSU shouldn’t call itself a union, I think you’re mistaking the word union and trade union. A union can also be “a number of persons, states, etc., joined or associated together for some common purpose: [example:]student union; credit union.” A trade union is what CUPE is. BUSU is not a trade union, so please don’t mix the two up. Union has more then one meaning.

  86. @ name required

    Your in-depth knowledge of my personal finances and personality are astounding. So, I’ll take your baseless, ridiculous claims about narcissistic students not knowing the value of a dollar with a grain of salt.

    If seminar rooms could accommodate +20 people, I wouldn’t be complaining. The simple fact is most of my seminars and lectures are held in rooms the size of a bedroom.

    Have you visited a seminar in MCC lately? If not, I encourage you to drop in. See for yourself.

  87. CUPE is using the BS “quality of education” argument to justify their ridiculous position of rejecting arbitration. If a strike extends into summer, students will graduate late and not be able to find a summer job (who will hire Brock graduates when they are only available to start 2 weeks later than other university’s students?) CUPE sure as hell doesn’t care about the average student. Seminars for many bird courses are useless, sit around and talk about your feelings about some reading/book, hmmm what did the author mean?… Poor quality education is delayed semesters, and that is what CUPE is committed to.

  88. @ CUPE is a joke.

    Do we attend the same university? My major course offerings all have seminar components. In other words, seminars are a mandatory part of my education. Overcrowding is an issue.

    If Brock pride’s itself on the seminar system – it should do more to protect it’s reputation.

  89. @BUSU is a joke

    “BUSU, as always, protects the interests of the administration, NOT the students. Of the aprox. 14,200 undergrads on campus, only a handful of BUSU’s friends in the faculty of business vote for them. Their only concern is personal reputation. Every student on campus knows this.”

    That is absolutely untrue. The majority of students running in the BUSU elections this year came from a different faculty. If the business students are the only ones that choose to vote, that not a flaw within BUSU’s process, that is a reflection of student apathy. If you don’t want business students in the BUSU executive, maybe you should run, or vote.

    As for personal reputation, these students end up putting in so many hours that they get paid less than minimum wage, in the long run.

    As a close friend of one of the candidates who came from a faculty other than business and had support from more than just business students, I know that their intentions were not solely for personal gain. If you reflect on the previous experiences of many students running in the BUSU elections, you might remark that many of them have their experience in VOLUNTEER positions, donating their time to improve the relationship between Brock and the surrounding community or between BUSU and the student body.

    Also, this individual had nothing to gain from having this position on their resume. It has nothing to do with the career path they aspire to follow.

    If you have a personal vendetta against BUSU, please refrain from grouping every individual involved in the organization into one category and assuming that they do not have honorable reasons for running, etc. It’s incredibly presumptuous and hurtful. You could be contributing to the perpetuation of the trends you mentioned. I know I wouldn’t want to put my name forward to represent the student body in a positive way if that was the kind of treatment I’d receive.

  90. What I enjoy the most about Brock University is the sense of community that I feel. I love that when ever I walk through the halls, there are familiar faces and people to chat with. I love that when I grab a coffee in the morning, I can join in on a discussion between a member of our university Board of Trustees, professors and students. I love that I’m not a number; here, I feel like a person.

    It is largely because of that community sense that I write this to you today. Here at Brock, that comradic bond is slowly becoming tainted by strife. Instead of discussing a concept with a calm head, Brock has begun to polarize. We have all been encouraged to proactively take a side on the Brock-CUPE 4207 negotiations. In previous years, that was done with respect for the opinions of others. There wasn’t a sense of ‘wrong’, merely an acknowledgement of difference. This round of negotiations, however, have touched on a passion-filled topic; quality of education.

    After years of underfunding of Post Secondary Education (PSE) in Ontario, after repeated budget reduction exercises, the white elephant in the room has been pointed out. Yes, we as students are paying more for less. Yes, an undergraduate degree doesn’t endow the holder with as much knowledge as it once did. And students have replied by treating education as a credential that can be gamed to achieve. It is with some shame that I – a proud Ontarian – state that through underfunding, the province is killing something I am passionate about.

    I’d love to have a diverse pedagogical environment were learning was assessed and evaluated through a multitude of methods. I’d love to see small group learning environments, and co-curricular learning opportunities. That’s not a reality with limited resources. And that is the discussion that is killing my institution. That is killing the community sense I care for.

    It’s not a discussion over wages. It’s not a debate over benefits. This is an argument over quality that won’t be solved by a handful of individuals at a negotiation table – the latest symptom of a multi-year argument between University stakeholders and government.

    I’ve been a student leader for a while. Over the past few years there is something that I’ve taken note of – anger kills conversations. Be it a discussion in our council, or a contract negotiation, once anger enters speech, everything devolves. I’m often guilty of this. We all are guilty of this; particularly on topics we have strong convictions over. Labour negotiations are no different. Both the University and CUPE 4207 are passionate, and because of that passion they have built trenches instead of bridges.

    Now, I can speak to you about functional reasons for why the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) has been pushing both sides to enter binding arbitration. A history of successful resolutions within the education sector is a track record that BUSU buys into. What I’d rather tell you is what lights the fire within me – what fills me with passion.

    I don’t want that sense of community to die. I don’t want anger to break that bond.

    Work Stoppages generate strong convictions, build passion, and do have distinct winners and losers. That is a presence that lingers long after the last picket sign is trashed, after the ink has dried on a contract and long after my own graduation. It’s culture. A way of governing one’s actions that is passed down through generations. Long after Dan Crow and Jack Lightstone have gone, the spirit of this will remain.

    So why I do personally support binding arbitration? Its a neutral way to diffuse this bomb. A way that will garner a stylistically similar result, without a lingering bitterness. It gets a fair agreement, and keeps the sense of community at Brock intact.

    For me, I choose to fight not for the Administration or CUPE, but in support of a community I love. I choose Brock.

  91. @busuisajoke

    what a good name. I can see you like telling it how it is from the comfort of your made up name. It is naive to think that BUSU can represent all the students. However, the majority of students (many of which you have never talked to) oppose their being a strike. I will say this for the Cristina/Carly conversation, not having a strike is not the same as not being allowed to strike.

    This is what I am lead to believe (which may not be facts but most of what is being said here are not facts either) if the university wants binding arbitration then they are willing to accept a neutral third party’s assessment of the situation; even if it is all of CUPE’s desires. Also, if CUPE rejects binding arbitration (which it did) then they truly do not believe that their reasoning is sound enough to get them all that they are asking for. To me, this means that CUPE is trying to leverage the university with students and loss of revenue to gain all that they want though they know it is more than they will get.

    Neither CUPE or Brock University is in the right here. Also, I am going to include BUSU. BUSU’s actions were reactive and not proactive. I understand its difficult to be proactive with these two parties and am in no way reprimanded BUSU but they reacted and it has put them between a rock and a hard place. Brock University should have been more conscious of CUPE’s actions and been more open when it came time to discuss. We are approaching a full year without a contract for them and it seems as though they are surprised. CUPE has acted poorly by making outrageous claims about how they are looking out for our best interests. HOW? Our seminar system will not go away as long as there are TA’s there will be seminars. There are two ways seminars can be taken away. First they tear down all of mac chown and most rooms in EA because they designed those rooms to be used for seminars and are entirely useless as something else. The second (and this is seeming more likely) that the TA’s ask for more money. If most of the seminars that are reduced are because of budget reasons, and TA’s put more strain on the budgets then more seminars would be lost.

    However, logic always loses in these circumstances.

    So Brock Have fun negotiating , CUPE if you stop me to tell me how right you are I will destroy you with logic and sound reasoning, and Brock students if there is a strike HAPPY ST PATTY’S DAY and if there isn’t, HAPPY ST PATTY’S DAY

  92. When there is an impasse in negotiations, both parties usually agree on binding arbitration. An independent mediator is brought in, who listens to both sides and comes up with a recommendation. CUPE refuses binding arbitration. Brock has even agreed to pay all the costs of the arbitration. Under the circumstances, I think most would agree that it is the union that is being unreasonable here, putting in question the ability of students to complete their year.

    Why would CUPE refuse binding arbitration, which is the logical way to end this dispute, since both sides are so far apart?

    BUSU is being entirely reasonable in campaigning for no strike. There is no need for a strike, if CUPE became more reasonable and went back to the negotiating table agreeing to an arbitrator.

  93. @The comment posted way at the top about BUSU being a joke:

    BUSU does push for these things. There are countless reports from our Exec’s about their actions. There is constant meetings with Uni officials. It is being done, but the Uni faces budget constraints.

    And what is this foolishness about Foot-Patrol? We put more money into this year, and there are always 6+ volunteers sitting at the Welcome Desk waiting for a call. Phone it, and then they will come! Telepathy doesn’t work.

  94. @Lindley,

    Chris, CUPE rejected binding arbitration because the University supported it right from the first mention of the idea. This means that they have no intention of agreeing to anything before the next 2 meetings with CUPE. That is a bit rude, you must agree. It means Brock doesn’t care to try anymore to agree to anything, and want’s an arbitrator.

    Also, I am beginning to agree that “NO Strike” is in fact an unintentional push against CUPE’s ultimate form of leverage. It is not Brock going on strike, but the CUPE. Had the campaign been, “NO Semester Disruption” or something of the like, it (to me, at least) would have shown a more neutral stance and a fair push on both parties, particularly the Admnin.

    Also, ignore the student who thinks BUSU is a joke. I do not wish to generalize them, for I will only make myself look silly, but they are not worth arguing with. I say this, of course, after I already posted in response to them. (Y)

  95. Like any Brock student, do not want to see a strike at Brock, my constituents as an elected-representative do not want to see a strike. But what my constituents do not want to see also is an overly one-sided representation of the facts. Speaking to just over 70 students this past week on the issue and over 500 during the BUSU election period I found that students while in clear opposition to the idea of a strike at Brock, were also NOT in clear opposition to CUPE. Students when made aware of the issues, the parsimonious bargaining behavior of the administration and their lack of regard for the Right of workers to unionize and form collective agreements– something CUPE has been without since June. No party in this process is to be free from scrutiny, BUT the record clearly indicates that it is the Brock Administration, not CUPE that students should be pressuring and demonstrating their discontent towards. I have been speaking about the issue of a strike at brock for over 2 months now, and no one took me seriously. I was THE ONLY BUSU Executive Candidate to speak on the issue of this looming strike, yet my concerns were swept aside and issues were conflated. My Academic Amnesty petition which now has online presence has nearly 2000 signatures(http://www.gopetition.com/petition/42836.html) Yet I was still not taken seriously in my attempts to keep the administration accountable.
    But now here we stand, eight days away from a potential strike and I feel like the guy on the Titanic who saw the iceberg and no one believed him.

    – Tyler Evans, BUSAC Representative – Humanities Department

  96. As a mature student who is supposed to be graduating this June, this whole situation is really stressful (as I’m sure it is for a large proportion of students). I just really felt compelled to respond to one particular comment:

    “Even if CUPE had to- in a worst-case-scenario, dig its heels in for capped seminar sizes and a commitment to provide an adequate proportion of meaningful positions to graduate students- the strike would proceed through exams, and then into the summer. That is minimal disruption.”

    This situation is *not* minimal disruption for every student. Some students have work contracts beginning after April exams, others may be taking courses at other universities that start in the spring. What will happen with these students? For students that have these commitments set in place, a strike that extends into the summer would cause severe disruption. I’m going through my own issues with my current employer as well, but the main point I’m making is that you cannot generalize and minimize the effects a strike will have on students.

    I’m part of a union as well (OPSEU) and routinely we work beyond our contract end dates….it sucks but it seems to be part of the lengthy negotiation process. A strike, however, would likely leave bad blood long after it’s over. After talking to several people (on and off campus), a strike would reflect poorly on both the university and the TAs. I’m sure it’s already causing anxiety for prospective students that know what’s going on.

  97. To those above,

    If you are a student, and you are unaware of what BUSU does for you, or how it operates; you’re just as ‘bad’ as the administration, CUPE, or anyone else you’d like to point your finger at.

    You elected your student represenatitves. If you didn’t vote, like more than 60% of the student body, you have no right to criticize. BUSU works on the principles of democracy, and as in any democracy – majority rules.

    Throw your name in the hat if BUSU is such a joke.

    It’s only YOUR money, after all.

    As an aside to both CUPE, Pro-Student, and Pro-Union Representatives, I respectfully advise you all carefully consider the impact of your statements. The internet is the largest thing Man has ever created that he doesn’t fully understand – but one thing remains a fact: The internet doesn’t forget.

    The ability to stand behind a curtain of anonymity while voicing your opinion may enable to proudly tote rash, harsh, or disrespectful tones – but your opinion may as well be silent if you’re not willing to place your name to it.

    This is a more complex issue than we may understand – as both CUPE and Brock University staffers are more than willing to remind us – but there is no option to ‘take your ball and go home’ here.

    There is more at stake than either side realizes, and the students need to be informed. #NoStrike is not a joke. It’s not Anti-Union. It’s not Anti-University. Two words – take a look. NO. STRIKE. We do NOT want a strike, under any circumstances.

    Consider it heavily, as it’s only our future you’re playing with.

  98. Well I thought the BUSU elections were disruptive – all those tables in the halls got in made hallways narrow and crowded on my way to class and took up too much space in the Brock Press talking about their campaigns when the whole thing is just a popularity contest. Brock should just appoint students from each faculty so it is diverse and has the best students on it, instead of just having business and poli sci students who want to pad their resumes. That would be a far more impartial process.

    BUSU you’d never go for that right? That’d mean you wouldn’t have a full time job right now, one that is better paid than any other on campus job. Appointing students would probably smack of favouritism and students would say it is undemocratic.

    This is why BUSU’s ‘suggestion’ of arbitration is terrible and completely undermines the union and their lawful strike position. CUPE had a democratic vote for a strike mandate. This is supposed to show the university “we’re pissed off at your (lack of) offer”. The university responded by PULLING THE SAME UNPREPARED CRAP. If BUSU truly wanted to avoid the strike, they would have gotten involved MONTHS ago when the first mediation dates happened in DECEMBER. That was a warning bell that things were not going well.

    We have had mediators who, from what I understand, have also been frustrated by Brock’s lack of preparation. BROCK ADMIN ARE BEING UNPROFESSIONAL AND THAT IS BEING REFLECTED ON OUR UNIVERSITY. The mediators should really be able to help iron out major issues, which has not happened and it is not because CUPE is asking for ‘too much’. Brock just doesn’t want to talk at all or come up with anything remotely fair. Even if seminars were off the table, they could at least come up with language for raises, which are NOT a lot – they just keep up with inflation (at least, it has in past collective agreements). In short, ALL OF THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN SOLVED IN THE PAST 8 MONTHS. Would you work without a contract for 8 months and just ‘hope’ your employer would treat you fairly? I don’t think so. That’s basically what CUPE has done all this time.

    ‘Binding arbitration’ does not even really exist. It is either ‘rights’ arbitration, which is basically grievance proceedures or ‘interest arbitration’, which is what BUSU presented as an option. This is an option ONLY FOR WORKERS WHO DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO LEGALLY STRIKE such as hospital workers or firefighters. They provide essential ‘life or death’ services and for them to strike means people would literally die. So they essentially forfeit the right the strike for arbitration.

    Arbitration is an EXPENSIVE AND TIME CONSUMMING process – decisions can take over a year. Also, since arbitrators do not do this work in the university sector normally, it would take a long time to find one who would actually take the job and then we’d have to spend at least a week talking about how work works at Brock. Arbiters know what it’s like for firefighters or nurses, they know their jobs and how much they make. And arbitrators cost like $6000 per day + hotel costs etc. THAT MEANS BROCK SPENDING MORE MONEY NOT ON STUDENTS TO PAY FOR SOMETHING THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIGURED OUT FOR FREE. And arbiters are way booked up – take a look at Arbdates.ca Oh, and it has to be an arbitrator that both sides agree on. CUPE’s website has more info on this, including links to the ministry of labour.

    There have been cases of universities settling certain things after arbitration but these are SINGLE ISSUES AND NOT COMPLETE COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS. It’s ONE THING that creates and impass, not basically the fact that you have workers that want to negotiate a collective agreement, which seems to be Brock’s problem. TO GO TO ARBITRATION WHEN THERE ARE SCHEDULED MEDIATION DATES SHOWS BROCK HAD NO INTENTION TO EVER BARGAIN IN GOOD FAITH. It should come as a last resort, at the end of a very long strike – it does not replace the fact that the STRIKE IS LEGAL even as much it will suck for everyone involved in the Brock community. If the university were truly interested in ‘the best’ for all, they would actually bargain! Right now! Before the strike deadline!

    BUSU’s original stance of ‘no strike’ is not in and of itself ‘anti-union’. It might have been simplistic and vague, but understandable insofar as it’s position of wanting to protect students’ interests and not take a side. However, the very act of proposing arbitration when it is clear that BUSU did not understand what it really was, it’s non-use in the educational sector, the cost and time required and that suggesting it before a strike when there are mediation dates scheduled, shows it is either a)uninformed and possibly incompetent or b) anti-union. I know you don’t feel that way BUSU and didn’t intend it that way but your continued pushing of this and not apologizing or saying that you didn’t really research it or know what you were talking about, nor asking CUPE how they felt about it BEFORE you publically offered it shows you are ANTI-UNION. It’s like somebody saying the n-word and then saying ‘but i’m not racist!’ Um, you are, even if you didn’t mean it.

    EVERYONE wants to avoid a strike. It’s stressful and messes up everybody’s life. But no one has ever not graduated or not gotten course credit because of one. York’s 88 day strike is the worst one in Canadian history and will likely not happen again. A strike of a week or two will not disrupt the school year. Over a month? Then there might start to be a problem. But that is why, as students we should be asking “What will happen? What services are going to be cut? How is the university going to deal with this?”

    Those are the questions BUSU should be lobbying for concrete answers for – something that only Brock itself can provide. Brock not providing you info is a tactic in and of itself – they want you to be scared and not know what is going on so you will side with them other than the ‘big bad union’ that is ‘causing’ all this. If BUSU is truly committed to students’ interests, they will be YELLING these questions to the 13th floor every chance they get. Not politely voting, not waiting for an email response, GETTING UP IN PEOPLE’S FACES WHERE YOU CAN’T BE IGNORED. They will claim it’s not ‘professional’ – well neither is not getting results for a job that WE STUDENTS PAY FOR with our student union dues. I’m paying for you to march up to Jack Lightstone in Market and demand an answer as he sits and has lunch there everyday, in front of everyone. THAT would be ‘working for students’.

  99. @just me

    “Well I thought the BUSU elections were disruptive – all those tables in the halls got in made hallways narrow and crowded on my way to class and took up too much space in the Brock Press talking about their campaigns when the whole thing is just a popularity contest. Brock should just appoint students from each faculty so it is diverse and has the best students on it, instead of just having business and poli sci students who want to pad their resumes. That would be a far more impartial process.

    BUSU you’d never go for that right? That’d mean you wouldn’t have a full time job right now, one that is better paid than any other on campus job. Appointing students would probably smack of favouritism and students would say it is undemocratic.”

    Welcome to BUSAC, we are having elections right now, please come to the BUSU office to fill out a nomination form and represent your faculty. I’m not going to finish reading your novel because the first two paragraphs were so misinformed.

  100. I am glad to see that the Union turned down the arbitration offer. There is no need to let an arbitrator come in to take an educated guess as to what would be a fair contract for the Union Workers. It clearly would not work out in their favor, which would ultimately not benefit the students in the long run.

  101. To All Sides,

    Thank you for thinking of us the students in all of this. I’m tired of the University trying to stick the students with a lower standard of education. They are trying to expand building in the face of growing enrollment, however at the same time sticking it to our educational foundations(seminars, and TA’s). I stand with the TA’s, and part time instructors / Lab Demo’s as they all are over worked, underpaid. And I know how everyone seems to think they are paid fairly, think about that for a minute, and see what they do on their own time, and how stressful it is for them currently. If they have a seminar of 20 people(as university says), and they have only 2 hours of office hours, that gives each person a total of maybe 4 minutes to meet each week to discuss their issues. I know as a special needs person, that I can’t get what I need in 4 minutes, let alone 1 hour they have per week. They should be allowed about 10 hours a week for this, in addition to marking time, and seminar hours.

    As far as the Union goes, good for not allowing arbitration, they always side with the entity that is trying to save money. It’s been proven time and time again through numerous provincial lobbies that when in doubt, stick it to the union. The current trend is to Union Smash, and if this continues, we’ll be lucky to keep minimum wage above 10 dollars an hour. They have fought for this type of standard of living for a long time, and I don’t want to see Canada taken back to the 60’s and 70’s where we have to refight all these battles that were won for the better of society.

    To the university, please just look at it from bigger picture, pay the TA’s what they want, maintain our system of education, and find ways to minimize the expenses you currently pay too much for. I mean you currently change the gardens in front of the tower every 2 weeks! How is that affordable? Also look to getting a better cost sharing deal from Sodexho as they rip off all students with their over prices meals in the tower cafeteria, if you want more gravy, start taking from the outside groups you partner with, and not the students / staff of your institution.

    Thank you!

  102. I am currently a TA at Brock University and would LOVE to see a resolution before the strike deadline. Unfortunately, as long as people are going in to the negotiations unaware of labour legislation protocols, I believe we will indeed be facing a work-stoppage next week.
    BUSU’s suggestion of “binding arbitration” reflects their lack of preparedness and understanding of current labour laws on arbitration. As a union with the RIGHT to strike, arbitration does not apply to our current problem. Only those unions without the right to strike (such as essential service providers, doctors, nurses, police, etc.) may apply for arbitration BEFORE a work-stoppage occurs. York University TA’s accepted arbitration after they were legislated back to work.
    CUPE has already asked for, and were refused, mediation and conciliation, our ONLY options for a neutral, third-party examination of our contract proposals. Until the university administration engages in the process, CUPE must protect its members; if a strike is the only way to force the university to negotiate, then we will strike.

    • If you were a parent of a Brock student, would you support your views? I think not. These kids’ educations are on the line, not to mention that they are trying to arrange summer employment which could also be compromised by a strike.

      • I am a parent of a Brock student and I believe this is about much more than finishing this semester on time so the kids can get to their minimum wage jobs! This is about the quality of education at Brock that we, as parents, pay for! I personally refuse to pay more for less! Why should my daughter’s tuition go up and for that she gets LESS seminars and labs and MORE people in her classes. Brock’s tuition continues to rise and yet so do seminar and class sizes! How about Brock BUILDS less and invests in the people who actually EDUCATE!

  103. The Students of Brock don’t really care about your “Right” to strike. Four years of preaching critical thinking and finding unique, alternative solutions to problems is all We ever hear, but the best the people who are supposed to be our role models for this type of thinking can come up with is “strike”??

    Ridiculous. Holding Our education hostage is not the answer.

    Taking two steps forward does not always require one step back.

  104. BUSU thinks they’re representing the best interests of students. This is not the case. They’re representing the interest of finishing the semester on time. The union is striking in an effort to increase their pay, but more importantly to improve the quality of education for all students enrolled at the University. The BUSU president is doing a horrendous job managing the situation from his leadership position and obviously lacks sufficient understanding of labour union protocol to be making any suggestions or statements on behalf of the student body. Maybe he should stick to taking campaign pictures of himself jumping mid-air around various spots on campus – because that seems to be just about all he is good for. Whatever the end result of the negotiations taking place today, it is unfortunate that we the students are represented by a group of individuals who have no clue what they are doing. But hey, such is life, eh?

  105. To the commenters who criticize BUSU before they criticize the parties involved, I wonder if YOU have any knowledge of university politics in any way.

    Students have 3 voting representatives on the Board of Trustees (2 UG + 1G). Students have 9 voting representatives on the Senate (7 UG + 2G). Both of these are far, far, far below a level to even think that students have any impact on university governance.

    This particular situation is a labour dispute between two parties. Neither of which has invited students to the table in any way. In fact, the same thing happened back in 2007 when the University and BUFA came down to a final-day negotiation and narrowly averted a strike.

    With students completely SHUT OUT of the discussion at ALL levels, BUSU is doing the only thing it CAN do – reflect the will of the marjority of the students at the school. James Froyer above says that BUSU is concerned with the interest of finishing the semester on time – that is what 80% of the students want. They don’t want classes running into May and June taking away summer earnings. They don’t want delayed graduations. And they don’t want the uncertainty provided by two sides who are using students as pawns in any negotiating situation.

    The economic realities are that the University does not control upwards of 90% of their revenue streams. The province controls tuition rates (which every university at the maximum institutional 5% rate every year), and the province controls grants. The university has an obligation not to run insurmountable deficits, and the only way to do this is keep costs manageable. Note that I don’t say they need to crush unions or increase class sizes, but they have an obligation to all stakeholders (students, employees, unions, the province, and taxpayers) to run efficiently.

    The unions also have an obligation to ensure that their demands are reasonable given the circumstances. The unions must realize that every extra dollar they “win” is a dollar that cannot be spent on another activitiy. And believe me, I fully understand and believe that there are some ways to save money at the administrative level at Brock. And the unions need to be pointing these out as sources of money.

    However, BUSU’s position for once and for all has always been that a strike is not a solution, and that students cannot be held hostage.

    This is a perverse industry. The customers (students) are locked into medium-length contracts with a university (until they receive their degree). They expect to receive that service, but are caught in the middle of a situation that they can do nothing about when the management and the employees are locked in a financial dispute about limited financing provided by another 4th-party (government). Students are completely powerless, and have been in every university and college labour dispute in the past 10 years. In this instance, we are all turned into numbers, and no student union has ever been able to pull a successful power play, regardless of which side they tried to support, or how many rallies they were able to organize.

    Most observers would suggest that some form of mediation or arbitration which guarantees no strike would be a fair solution. Whether it’s binding arbitration, final-offer arbitration or other methods which have been suggested, those methods result in an impartial third (or 5th) party coming to a resolution on a set of facts. This is seen as a solution that takes into account the final positions of both parties, and lets an independent reviewer with ALL the facts decide the best course of action. If a side is confident that their bargaining position is fair and reasonable, an agreement to arbitration at 11:59pm tonight (after hopefully coming to agreements on other facts) is the ONLY course of action that protects the students.

    And that’s what BUSU is suggesting.

    Now where is the Graduate Students Association in this dispute? Why does BUSU take flak for defending the needs of their constituents, but the GSA receives no mention for their role?

  106. Well, the union and administration came to a tentative agreement at 1 am last night. Unfortunately, I think BUSU still comes out with a little egg on their face for their sudden, aggressive “no strike” campaign and arbitration suggestion.

    It was the natural leverage of the union’s strike mandate that allowed bargaining to proceed successfully so that the strike could be averted on the eve of the strike deadline. It was pretty classic bargaining, and there was no need to undermine that bargaining process with premature talks of arbitration (an option that was not even in the legal course of action for CUPE at the time).

    BUSU participated in this event in such a way that many thoughtful students are now questioning their alliances and their ability to communicate on behalf of the students. It was pretty clear the pro-CUPE anti-CUPE camps were pretty evenly populated, and BUSU took on a one-sided approach without consulting the students in any way first (admittedly- according to Sohail Ahmed).

    The GSA took an approach that was much less aggressive and much more appropriate. The GSA immediately understood that it was premature to call for arbitration and that such a promise would undermine the union’s bargaining power. The GSA basically decided to support the union as far as the union required support for bargaining strength, the GSA also provided detailed information and planning to provide its members with contingency plans and an idea of what the campus would look like if there was a strike. On the other hand, BUSU allowed rumors to run rampant and used strong propaganda, “No Strike!”, to encourage panic in its members.

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